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In April 2022, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) published the Guidelines: Applications for a permit to clear native vegetation relating to carbon farming projects (Guidelines) which provides guidance to applicants for clearing permits on how the DWER considers the presence of a registered carbon farming project when assessing clearing permit applications.

The Guidelines apply to carbon farming projects which have been registered under the Emissions Reduction Fund, received State eligible interest holder consent and have been issued Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).

Clearing native vegetation without a clearing permit or without being otherwise authorised is an offence under s 51C of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (EP Act). When determining a clearing permit application, the CEO of the DWER has regard to the clearing principles (contained in schedule 5 of the EP Act) and any development approval, planning instrument or other matter that the CEO considers relevant.[1]

There are three ways in which the existence of a registered carbon farming project within an area of native vegetation proposed for clearing may be a relevant consideration for the CEO, namely:

  1. as a relevant factor in determining the current and future condition of native vegetation. Such an assessment will be based on the best available information or through an inspection of the site at the time the application is made;
  2. as a matter raised through a public submission relating to the clearing permit application; or
  3. as a relevant ‘other matter’.

Notably, the Guidelines state that where ACCUs for a carbon farming project must be relinquished, the CEO would be unlikely to consider the presence of such a project as a matter relevant to the assessment of the clearing permit application.

The Guidelines are available on the DWER website here. If you would like to clarify any aspect of the Guidelines or discuss how it may apply to your land, please contact us by telephone on (08) 6460 5179 or email at admin@glenmcleodlegal.com.

[1] EP Act Section 51O.